USA Cycling: Top 10 things behind the IoT competitive advantage

By | 7 minute read | July 26, 2016

Team USA cycling

USA Cycling Women’s Team Pursuit is using IoT technology to train, race and win.  Below are the top 10 things in their winning technology recipe.


  1. Track power

Stages Cycling is the official power meter supplier of USA Cycling. Power data is integral to cyclists and coaches seeking to maximize the athlete’s on bike performance, by way of measuring the exact amount of power each athlete is putting out in real time when pedaling. Stages Cycling created a special power meter specifically for the USA Cycling Women’s Team Pursuit program. This unique Stages Power meter measures the riders power output through the super aerodynamic carbon arms of the team’s Vision carbon cranks.  – From Coach Benjamin Sharp, Resident Power Education Specialist for Stages Cycling




2. Understand energy levels

Muscle oxygen is a new metric that can correlate to many physiological conditions, but has a uniqueness to the individual as well as protocol. We believe the athletes and trainers of USA Cycling have executed on data collection and study, with BSXinsight technology, potentially benefiting at the highest degree. This technology has offered many benefits, such as allowing them to better-understand energy production and utilization in order to optimize training load and recovery. – From Dustin Freckleton, Founder and CEO at BSX Athletics


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3. Collect and share IoT data

Porticos supported the jStart team by focusing on the mount. A mobile-enabled device is mounted to the bike, to capture data and send it to the cloud  during an effort. The mount would have to be strong enough to hold the device in place during a grueling ride and light enough to not impact the weight of the bike. In a dizzying two-week push, Porticos engineered a solution that took advantage of an existing off-the-shelf rugged case, modifying it and designing a custom bracket for it. With this bracket, the rugged case is attached securely to the supports under the cyclist’s seat. Future embodiments can be more elegant and aerodynamic, but this solution met the physical specification requirements and the urgent deadline.  – From Greg Patterson, President, Porticos, Inc.


USA Cycling Ruth Winder

4. See matches burned

Solos™smart eyewear for cyclists is an integral training tool for the USA Women’s Cycling team. The Solos team and USA Cycling team partnered in Project 2016 to fuse critical wearable technologies that include an innovative heads-up display and audio technologies, with essential high-performance eyewear to enable the team to maximize its performance. The @SolosWearables team, in collaboration with MIT Sports Technology research experts, validated an optimal design of Solos, with sound data analytic models. As part of the  Team pursuit, the Solos team has also worked closely with IBM Jstart to develop a custom sports performance solution that will enable the coaches and athletes to access immediate data analytics and actionable insights for optimal competition strategies; which include speed pacing and optimal rider recovery swapping to enable faster riding time records. – From Dr. Ernesto Martinez, Director Sports Performance Wearables, Kopin


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5. Analyze all times

M&S consulting provided the integration from the MYLAPS timing system to Watson IOT running in Bluemix. A Raspberry Pi collects cycling data from the MYLAPS decoders and funnels it to Docker Containers in IBM’s Bluemix. These containers first convert the raw data into user-friendly messages. Next, they send the messages in near real-time to a Watson IoT Topic via the MQTT industry standard communications protocol and store them away for future playback and analysis in a Cloudant NoSQL database.

Stop watches are manual, cumbersome devices, not exactly accurate or precise, can only time one rider crossing one point on the track (when they cross the start/finish line on each lap), and times are written down or entered manually for later analysis. With the solution from M&S Consulting, exact times for all four riders as each crosses one of 4 or more locations on each lap, and times are automatically fed to Watson IoT for more immediate feedback and integration with other data feeds (power, heart rate etc.) for correlation and advanced analytics.  – From Jay Mason, Associate Partner, Business Intelligence, M&S Consulting


Team USA cyclist

6. Derive value from the things

The IBM Watson IoT Platform is a managed, cloud-hosted service designed to make it simple to derive value from your Internet of Things devices.  With Watson IoT analytics, USA Cycling can get a clear analytical picture of what they need to do to win gold. Watson IoT now allows them to read both structured and unstructured data to create a comprehensive view. By bringing this data into the cloud, Watson can provide athletes and coaches with real-time data. If a player is overexerting themselves, the Watson IoT platform can notify them before an injury occurs or before they burn too many matches. -From Amy Bennett, IBM Watson IoT


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7. Collaborate with the team

When the coaching staff of USA Team Pursuit met with IBM jStart, we simply asked them, ‘how can we help?’. …We listened…We got to work… We started small.  Within a month, we were back with a simple user-interface actively displaying the average pull, average non-pull and the average of both. Initially, the bar charts were enabled for a single rider; power over time. At the next training camp the first version of the mobile app carried in the back pocket of the cyclist’s skin suit was tested. The objective was to show that data could be streamed from the bike power meter and stored in the cloud. jStart enhanced the app to collect the new SmO2 data from a BSX Insight device along with the first version of an iPad app interface that displayed mobile phone and sensor device status in the collection process. Over the next few months the jStart team leveraged IBM Cloud, Watson IOT and Spark services to not only provide the coaches the analytics at the end of the session, but also in real time.  Learn how we grew the solution and became fans. – From Rhonda Edwards, IBM jStart


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8.  Spark insights

The team will also be including the power of IBM Analytics for Apache Spark to calculate metrics in real time. This will allow the team’s coaches to monitor performance not only after the training session, but while it is still in progress – for example, during each exchange, the coaches will be able to see whether a match was burned. Also, by bringing Spark technology into USA Cycling’s technology stack, the team is beginning to see various new ways to leverage data. – From Rick Perret, IBM Analytics


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9.  Go mobile

IBM MobileFirst solutions on the cloud remove the complexity of developing and managing mobile apps and allow teams to focus on the needs and demands of the dynamic mobile user. It’s not just about having a mobile app for the sake of having an app. It’s about getting relevant information at the right time with the ability to take immediate action.

As this new training solution is mobile and cloud based and on the Watson IoT Platform, the team can practice anywhere and still benefit from the real time tracking, analysis and communication. Using their mobile app, coaches can also access real-time training sessions at any time and from anywhere, enabling remote engagement when everyone can’t be in the same place at the same time. This provides a lot of flexibility to a team that is constantly on the go. – From Penny Schlyer, IBM Mobile


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10. Share and store IoT data on the cloud

At IBM, we’re excited to be able to bring together not only tools to connect the wearable devices through our Internet of Things Platform, but also the data and analytics services like IBM Analytics for Apache Spark, Cloudant (a NoSQL Database as a Service), and Graph to enable developers and data scientists to manage the data and gain insights.  You’ll be able to create personalized end-user experiences, drive progress, and cut costs with healthcare in the cloud.

Learn more about how you can build the solution you need with these services  through the IBM Bluemix cloud platform. – From Sara Strope, IBM Cloud

Team USA Cycling has joined forces with Watson IoT, IBM Analytics, and IBM jStart to incorporate real-time data analytics from the internet of things into their training. The culmination of the passion, skill, and conditioning of the cyclists and coaches, coupled with the most advanced technologies, give this team the competitive edge they need as they go for gold.   Join us each week as we explore the Team Pursuit #RidetoRio through the lens of John Huet and the words of the athletes, coaches and technologists.